posted at http://markandjoannatravel.blogspot.com
September 4, 2009
Today we change worlds and enter the world of geeks, nerds, and gamers. Yes, it’s the start of PAX, the Penny Arcade Expo. Basically, it’s a video game convention that covers 3 days. It started in 2003 and this is the first year they sold out tickets for the event reaching maximum capacity of the Washington Convention Center – 75,000 people. The whole convention center was set up for the event and it was quite an experience.
Mark is certainly more in this world of gamers than I am. Though, I do understand most of what’s going on. I really had no idea what I was getting into when we decided to schedule our Seattle trip around PAX. The Expo started today, Friday, at 10am, however, the line opened up at 8am. The first 4,000 people received wristbands that guaranteed admission to tonight’s concert. We arrived about 8am and entered the Queue room, a room that we would get to know well. They had a whole exhibit hall set up just to hold people in a line. We were certainly one of the first 4,000, though certainly not the first. We sat down on the concrete floor that would be our home for the next 2 days and watched the line entertainment. Entertainment consisted of a message board for people to text message in to. Also, there was inside humor and a few trivia games during the wait.
By the time 10am rolled around, we were as jammed in this line as possible with every bit of space taken up by a person so as to fit us all in. Then, the gates were opened and everyone raced into a series of dark rooms full of computers and games!!!! All the top gaming companies had a booth as well as some individual games. Basically, we could walk around and use their computers set up to play their games, check out their new games, buy stuff, and preview the games that weren’t out yet. I was amazed at all the booths and people, and Mark was running off to play the first games. We spent the morning touring the exhibition hall. Many fans dressed up as their favorite gaming characters and I had fun taking pictures of everyone. There were some pretty elaborate costumes. Soon, we left the exhibition hall to go line up for a panel discussion on video game journalism. Everything we attended started with a long line. The event coordinators and crowd control were called Enforcers and did a very good job at keeping the lines organized. We spent a lot of time in lines.
We attended the key note speech given by the Monkey Island game designer. Most of these talks we are going to involve a very successful person discussing how they started out small and usually with a small business. Hey, this pertains to me! We both had fun at PAX. After the key note speech was an open panel discussion with the two makers of Penny Arcade and the hosts of the convention. We spent the whole day here. We got to try out the new Lego Rock Band and Beatles Rock Band. We played with the Wii Resort and this new Wii puzzle game called lights. We kept quite busy. In fact, we didn’t get a free chance to check out the freeplay rooms. Basically they had huge rooms set up where anyone could go play on a computer, or play a board game. There was a huge assortment of things to keep you busy. In the halls, there were large bean bags placed everywhere so people could just hang out and use their computer, talk, play their DS or PSP, and even sleep. The place was packed.
After a panel with the star bands at the concert tonight, we had a quick break for dinner and found a sports bar not far away. Then it was back to get in line for the concert. The concert starts at 9:30, but we didn’t know how the line would be. So, we got there early. Tonight, the concert finally started at 10:30. We heard 4 bands in the nerd core genre of music. Many of the bands used a game boy and other synthesizers as instruments. The place was jamming as the bands put on a great rock concert. We finally got out of there around 2am. On our way out, I heard someone mention that they were going to the Rock Band freeplay room to play until they closed at 3am. Good for them…we headed to bed. =)